Emotional Vettel revels in first victory for Ferrari


Sebastian Vettel has been left speechless after claiming an emotional win for Ferrari in just his second race for the team.

The German driver produced a perfect display in Malaysia on Sunday to clinch his first race win since the 2013 Brazilian Grand Prix, as Mercedes struggled with tire management in the extreme heat of Sepang.

Vettel joined Ferrari at the beginning of the year after spending six seasons with Red Bull in a move that saw him follow in the footsteps of his hero, Michael Schumacher.

In Malaysia on Sunday, the four-time world champion dominated proceedings at Sepang to cross the line 8.5 seconds ahead of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.

On the podium after the race, Vettel made no secret of his delight, struggling for words at times.

“It’s been a while – I haven’t been on the top step,” Vettel said. “My first time obviously with Scuderia Ferrari. I’m speechless…

“Obviously a big change over the winter, and the welcome that the team gave me has just been fantastic. I’ve only done two races, but it’s really a great atmosphere.

“[I’m] proud of today. We beat [Mercedes] fair and square. A great achievement, we have a great car. It is a bit emotional.”

Vettel mentioned Schumacher on the podium, saying that he is living a dream by racing for Ferrari and winning for the Scuderia.

“I am speechless,” Vettel said. “Last year was not a good year for me. I was struggling. This year’s car seems to suit me very well, and the team has been phenomenal.

“I remember when the gate opened at Maranello, it was like a dream coming true. I remember the last time I was there I was a kid watching Michael over the fence. Now I’m driving that very red car… it’s incredible.

“Today the race was spot on, great strategy, great race. Thanks to the team. A really really great day.”

With his fourth race win at Sepang, Vettel also became the most successful driver in the history of the Malaysian Grand Prix on Sunday, and will be hoping to use this result as a springboard for a possible championship challenge in 2015.

Toyota No. 8 car wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans for third consecutive year

24 Hours of Le Mans

LE MANS, France — Toyota Gazoo’s No. 8 car comfortably won the 24 Hours of Le Mans by five laps Sunday to secure a third straight victory in the prestigious endurance race.

It was also a third consecutive win for Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi and Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima driving. Brendon Hartley was the other driver, having replaced two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso.

Buemi and Hartley sat on the side of the car as Nakajima drove toward the podium. Hartley won for a second time after tasting success with the Porsche LMP Team in 2017 before an unhappy season in Formula One.

The Swiss team’s Rebellion No. 1 featured American driver Gustavo Menezes and Brazilian Bruno Senna – the nephew of late F1 great Ayrton Senna.

It finished one lap ahead of Toyota Gazoo’s No. 7, with Rebellion’s No. 3 finishing in fourth place.

For much of the race it looked like Toyota’s No. 7 would win after leading comfortably from pole position. But late into the night the car encountered an engine problem and the 30-minute stop in the stands proved costly.

The race was first held in 1923. A total of 252,500 spectators attended in 2019, but there were none this year when the race started three months late because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We miss the fans,” New Zealander Hartley said. “I look forward to seeing all the fans again.”

In other divisions:

United Autosports won the LMP2 division with the entry of Filipe Albuquerque, Paul Di Resta and Phil Hanson.

–In LMGTE Pro, the victory was claimed by Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Maxime Martin, Alex Lynn and Harry Tincknell (who drives for Mazda in the DPi division of IMSA).

–TF Sport won the LMGTE Am class.

The Toyota No. 7 took pole after former F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi narrowly edged out the Rebellion No. 1 team in qualifying.

In damp and humid conditions Mike Conway got away cleanly from the start, while Senna held off Buemi.

After nearly seven hours, Toyota’s No. 8 fell back after a 10-minute stop in the stands to fix a brake-cooling problem on Kazuki Nakajima’s car. Rebellion’s No. 1, driven by Frenchman Norman Nato, took advantage to move into second place behind Toyota’s No. 7.

Then came the decisive moment at 2:40 a.m. as the No. 7 – also featuring Argentine Jose Maria Lopez – encountered a turbo problem. When the car came back out it was back in fourth.

“We had a few problems early in the race,” Nakajima said. “Later they had a bigger issue than us.”

Rebellion’s No. 1 encountered a problem on the hood at around 9 a.m. and the change took six minutes, allowing the Rebellion No. 3 (Nathanael Berthon-Louis Deletraz-Romain Dumas) to close the gap.

It was becoming a tight battle between the two Rebellion cars behind Toyota’s No. 8.

At 12 p.m. Rebellion No. 3 with Dumas behind the wheel was only one second ahead of No. 1 driven by Menezes. Then both cars came in for a driver change with Deletraz swapping for Dumas on a lengthy stop, and Nato for Menezes as Rebellion No. 1 suddenly moved ahead of its team rival.

Dumas, a winner in 2016 with Porsche, appeared unhappy at the strategy decision to bring his car in first and the length of the stop. There were tense explanations in the team garage.

Colombian Tatiana Calderon, an F1 test driver with Alfa Romeo, was in the Richard Mille Racing Team in the LMP2 category. She was joined by German Sophia Florsch – an F3 driver – and Dutchwoman Beitske Visser. They placed ninth out of 24 in their category.